When efforts to sign former Maverick Gal Mekel broke down due to procedural visa issues, the Pacers were forced to quickly move on to other free agent guard options before their league granted hardship exception expired Thursday:
Indiana has signed guard A.J. Price, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 6, 2014
As officially reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Indiana ultimately decided that former Pacer A.J. Price was the next best option to Mekel. Before being waived by Cleveland, Price averaged 7.2 points and 1.5 assists in six preseason games as a Cavalier. In his final season with the Pacers, A.J., now 28, appeared in 44 games and averaged 3.9 points on 33.9% shooting in 12.9 minutes per game.
Drafted by the Pacers in 2009 and spending three seasons wearing the Blue-and-Gold, familiarity with the team as well as Frank Vogel's coaching style has been mentioned as an added benefit to the short-term signing. Yet, when Price joins the Pacers on Friday, the only active teammate that remains from the 2011-12 team in which he was most recently a part will be Roy Hibbert. Which, in turn, means that the Pacers along with Price's role on the team will both be quite different from what once was four seasons ago.
On a temporary non-guaranteed deal, Price will provide much needed relief for lone guard Donald Sloan and make-shift back-up Solomon Hill. During the 2013-14 season, Sloan and Hill played 618 minutes combined. Now, just five games into the 2014-15 season, the one-time understudy to the back-up and gently used rookie have earned 319 minutes of playing time, slightly over 50% of last year's full-season minutes total. Coming off an overtime loss to the Wizards while in the midst of a brutal stretch of four games in five nights, the addition of a 16th player should bring some much needed rest to the Pacers' sure-to-be weary legs.
Serving as the back-up to the back-up's back-up, Price may not move the needle for the hobbled Pacers, but he most definitely will provide another healthy body capable of lessening the increasingly heavy November load.
Added via the hardship exception, Price will be signed on a temporary minimum deal for the length of time it takes one of the many injured members of the roster to return to game action. Per league rule, an independent physician is required to judge whether it is necessary for inactive members to miss two weeks of games in order to qualify for the exception as well as to assess each player's ability to return to play.